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EghtesadOnline: Dams are built to help protect against the potential loss of life and properties that can be caused by flooding.

There are 200 dams in Iran half of which are in southern regions like Khuzestan Province, but the flood-prone area has long suffered from deluge causing heavy human and material losses, ISNA reported.

If rainwater management systems were efficient and enough funds were available for developing runoff collecting systems instead of constructing dams, people would not have to endure the pain and misery that has become a near permanent feature in recent years.

There is no denying that in a country grappling with severe drought for more than a decade, good rainfall is indeed a blessing. But officials, seem oblivious to the fact that dams, even if built in desired locations, have their own limitations, says Anoush Esfandiari, a researcher at the Water Policy Research Institute, a subsidiary of Kerman Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture.

The famous Dez and Karkheh Dams in Khuzestan may overflow if the heavy downpours continue for more than a week.

"Fighting floodwaters is not new as our ancestors did likewise. However, building huge barriers was their last resort, especially in the flat terrains where it was impossible to build a dam," he said, adding that past generations concentrated on long-term and practical solutions. 

"There were precise blueprints and control mechanisms that, among other things, did not allow construction near specified perimeters away from water bodies," he said.

According to Esfandiari, in the past housing development projects were banned near the downstream side of dams to prevent loss to life and property when disaster struck. 


Short-Term Solution

Rejecting claims that without dams, the destructive impact of flooding is much worse, he said, "Dams act like a temporary and stopgap solution against floods and keep on postponing disaster."

A known advocate of dams, Qassem Taqizadeh Khamesi, director of the National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company of Iran (Abfa), believes that dams still play a key role in mitigating damage during flooding. 

Referring to torrential rains in the oil-rich region in the past week that have caused major problems as floodwaters sweep homes and businesses, he admitted the predicament has become a new challenge for the Energy Ministry.

“Cities like Abadan, Bushehr, Ahvaz and Mahshahr do not have proper infrastructure to collect and conserve surface runoff after rainstorms. The result is that water penetrates the wastewater collection network and damages pipes and huge volumes of water find its way into the streets.”

Although the wastewater collection network is operational in Ahvaz, it is not designed to harvest surface water.

In cities like Tehran, the network to collect surface runoff has been extended by 8,000 kilometers with the help of the municipality and the same policy should be adopted in other places, he stressed.

Referring to other ways to fight floods, he said dredging can also help improve the flow of floodwater into rivers by enabling them to hold more water and in turn reduce the risk of flooding.

“As per last year’s national budget, the Energy Ministry was supposed to receive $30 million for dredging. We have got nothing so far.”

Winter is here and more rain will fall and flash floods could be frequent. Residents of the oil region are suffering and demand an unambiguous answer to their question: When will these problems be solved once and for all?


Floods Dams